Saturday, May 31, 2014

Farewell Autumn (and 'every day in May')

I made it! I managed to stick with the Every day in May program and blog every day for 31 days straight! Yay me!

Autumn has been good to me.

I went to an outdoor music festival with my girls.

I'm the sensible one with the buttoned shirt - I had to 
take my hat off so other people could fit in the picture!
Look what being old has done to me!

I reignited my love of playing an instrument (unfortunately, I discovered I still have no talent), took up a new health fad to get excited about (last year it was thermocooking from scratch, this year it's using essential oils to detox and heal) and got into my garden. 

Why not? This was Mothers Day at 
my parents' house.

 We welcomed a new member of our family.

 Meet Charli!

In usual me-style I had an awkward blunder. I got bitten by a yellow spider* (did it hitchhike in on a banana?) and the same night fell down the stairs resulting in a four week exercise hiatus (hello three extra kilos). 

And I'm not even sad that our tropical Autumn didn't yield any crunchy leaves to play in, because...

Small Boy and I are headed off to spend time with family in Wales in September. That's a SECOND Autumn this year - complete with falling leaves! Hooray!


* J was disappointed the bite didn't result in my getting any special powers. He said if I'd become a super hero, I'd probably walk up walls and then fall down. In fact he rather enjoyed the whole ordeal as an opportunity to crack many jokes and laugh maniacally. 

Friday, May 30, 2014

My favourite picture from the news this week (every day in May)

This week has been absolutely mental for me and I haven't had a lot of time to read 'news' (something I usually enjoy doing).

So, I just did a quick scout now to find a picture that grabbed my eye.

It's San Francisco, taken from a helicopter, by photographer Michael Shainblum.

I like the colours, the contrast of the beauty of nature against the beauty of the urban landscape.

I love how it makes you feel tiny and huge all at the same time.

It looks so cool and you can almost feel the icy wind whipping through your hair - it takes me back to my own (ground level) adventures in San Fran.

As Mark Twain Jack London someone once said, "The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco."

What's the coldest you've ever been?

Thursday, May 29, 2014

RAOK (every day in May)

Two acts of kindness toward me as a child have stuck with me into my adult life. They've made me want to pass on the favour with my own acts of kindness.

The first one happened when I was an eight year old. It was in the midst of the recession and for a variety of reasons we were living below the poverty line. I can remember mum having to scratch for money for essentials week after week after week. At the time we were temporarily living in Far North Queensland.

For some reason, in amongst all this scrimping and making ends meet, she decided to treat us with a trip to the local show.

We went after dinner, in the warm Cairns evening. My mum pushing my little brother the entire way in his battered stripy stroller and my sister and I tagging along in our sandals.

We knew better than to expect anything other than a look at the displays and rides but mum surprised us with some toffee popcorn to share. We'd gotten our free cardboard caps courtesy of a real estate man and were feeling really pleased with ourselves, getting ready for the walk home.

Some big kids approached. I can remember being afraid of big kids. Big kids, in my experience, were unkind to girls like me. The girl gestured to we kids and spoke to my mum (who at five foot nothing and in her twenties looked much like a teenager herself). "My boyfriend won me this, do your kids want it?" It was a big, red, bean-filled bear wearing a checkered bow tie.

Well. We were absolutely made up with it and my brother clutched it in his stroller all the way home. How lucky we felt! I can remember we took turns to sleep with it for weeks. I wonder if that girl knew how happy she made us? I hope she had an inkling.

The second act of kindness was more thought out. We had elderly neighbours who lived very simply but who had 'done alright for themselves'.

They had been born in the wake of World War I and had been through the blitz in their young adulthood. He liked to tell me how when they'd met, she'd been so poor she'd lined her shoes with newspaper to keep out the cold and wet. After the Second World War, they'd moved to Australia to raise a family on a farm.

Despite the fact they were now reasonably well-off, old habits die hard. She cut dishcloths from his worn out clothes. He grew vegetables in their yard. She made almost everything from scratch and their house was warm and comfortable.

She used to watch me walk to school every day in my grey fleece jumper. I often felt a chill, we lived in the hills in South Australia where it was often cold and wet.

One day she called me over to show me what she'd made me. A duffle coat she'd cut down from a large winter coat of her husband's. She'd lined the hood with soft, yellow towelling so the wool wouldn't scratch my face. So thoughtful.

She said I looked like I needed it. I really did. It made me feel special and cared for and valued.

It also kept me warm on my walk to school every day and it still hangs in my cupboard, 20 years later. Sometimes I get it out to look at the careful stitching she did especially for me. Even though I now live in tropical Queensland, I can't bear to part with it.

It's inspired me to create with love for people around me. Sometimes it ends disastrously, but it is the thought that counts.

It's also inspired me to do simple deeds, without fuss or fanfare - hoping to repay the kindess that's been shown to me.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A habit I'd like to break (every day in May)

I could win an Olympic medal for worrying. 

Or could I? 

Maybe I don't practise my worrying as much as I should. Maybe I should research a better way to worry. Am I doing enough worrying as a wife and mother? Do you think it's an adequate amount? More than average? Would more sleep make me better at worrying? What would happen if...?

Look at that worried little face! Wonder where he gets that from?
He had been getting his own milk in the 
middle of the night (semi regular occurance) and slipped!

Welcome to the inside of my head... except I don't worry about worrying, just about everything else

As a person who has a significant amount of... let's say life experience for someone in her mid-thirties; I've always been someone who hopes for the best but plans for the worst.

I'm the person who always has a plan b, a detailed plan b. Sometimes a plan c or plan d or plan e. I worry on behalf of my friends and family and even sometimes people I've just met. Then I worry about how to tell them the information I've just googled or heard or worked out. 

So, if you're tempted to worry about something - don't bother! I've probably already got it covered!


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Blog roll (every day in May)

I'm over everything today... when I'm over everything I like to disappear into a story.

I used to love books. I could escape for hours at a time into fantasy worlds filled with wonder and excitement. Now if I escaped for hours at a time, pandemonium would likely reign around me and I would emerge to some sort of disaster.

So. My escape these days is in ten minute slots - usually into a blog.

I love a few different blogs for totally different reasons.

I love the voyeuristic appeal of Maxabella Loves. I like to think that perhaps in a a parallel universe I, too, am raising chickens and doing all the sorts of exciting 'city' things that occasionally creep into her blog. Gorgeous, simple pictures of a varied childhood inspire me to do more with my own kids.

If I need a laugh, I pop into Have a Laugh on Me. I've been following in a non-commenty way for a while now. I feel as though we might possibly be related (that whole 'switched at birth' theory is still a fantasy I occasionally retreat to). Em (can I call her that? other people seem to) seems to be living a similar crazy-hectic sort of working-mama life.

I enjoy popping in to Essentially Jess once a week. She loves all the same TV shows that I do, we share a lot of the same beliefs, and knowing there was someone out there blogging about sweating it out in the north was nice (even if she has recently relocated somewhere she can wear socks and jackets comfortably). Visiting there feels like having a cuppa with a playgroup mum, despite the fact I no longer have any playgroup-ing children.

And lastly, the first blog I started following was one written by a classmate from primary school. On Polkadot Lane. She doesn't update it very often, but I do love seeing what she's up to! Seeing her posts made me realise that blogging was something I *could* do for myself. Like me, I think she started it to have a record of all the things she has made and done for her little family.

Oops, maybe I love them all for the same reason! For company!

And here (because there are only a few blog posts to go til we make it to the end of May and because fun pictures cheer me up when I'm over everything and because I call my friend May despite the fact her real name starts with an R) is me:

I'm wearing the odd hat. This is as close to a proper English lady as I get ;) 

Umm... May... sorry. Not really. 

I've actually picked up a few new must-visits this month thanks to the link-up at Clairey Hewitt:

Monday, May 26, 2014

Do you believe in ghosts? (every day in May)

I'm not sure that I believe in ghosts. I've never seen one, but I've certainly felt a sort of creepy energy around the place.

So here are some ghost stories from people I know. Two of them are complete skeptics when it comes to spiritual things, so feel like they must really believe what they've seen.

The green light
A relative of mine was sleeping in a house where a man had recently died. There were tins of dog food found in the man's bedroom despite the fact he had no dog and he had died elderly and alone in the decrepit, old villa. One night, she was lying in bed and a green light appeared on the wall. She thought she was hallucinating and so woke her husband. He could see it too. They watched the light slowly growing larger and brighter before it shrunk away to nothing. They checked to see if the light could have been reflected from outside but the room they were in had only one window and it faced out to many acres of farmland, no cars in sight.

The face
Another relative of mine was out in the backyard gym when he stormed into the house and demanded his wife stop pulling faces at the window. She hadn't been and the gates were all securely locked so nobody else had been in the yard, either. They went to bed. An hour later, the doorbell rang. The husband sat up in bed, exclaimed, "My papa is gone!" then went to the door to receive the news that his grandfather had passed away an hour earlier.

The checked shirt
My grandmother was visiting from overseas. We were living in a (mostly-finished) home my father was building on what had once been a farm. I was terrified of our kitchen and refused to go in there alone. My gran told me that she didn't like the kitchen either but did not elaborate. One day, a man came to the door to check on rates or water or something. He mentioned that my father had built our house right where his friend, the farmer, had died many years ago. "Right where your kitchen is, actually!" My grandmother asked him if the man had been wearing a blue checked shirt and a hat. She continued to describe the farmer. Our council visitor looked visibly shaken and confirmed the facts. He had fallen over the front of his tractor and had died under one of the wheels.

So.. I'm not sure about ghosts, but I do think that when we die perhaps part a shadow of our spirit is left behind.

Or maybe we're just way more observant than we realise - anybody else see this guy on The View a couple of years ago?

Sunday, May 25, 2014

If I could be a fly on the wall (every day in May)

Today's prompt is: If you could be a fly on the wall at any time in history, where do you go?

Well, knowing my luck, as a fly on the wall I'd be swatted before I saw anything remotely interesting!

I'm a bit of a history nerd, I love to bore my friends with pointless facts I've learned from watching SBS docos (watched two on the royals just last week which *I* thought were fascinating). Having a history doco on in the background makes housework more bearable. I'm assuming that's just me ;) So, probably I am actually quite happy with witnessing history from a page or a box where I don't have to live with the stench of the olden-times or view anything gory and horrible up close.

But... if you really MADE me go somewhere back in time I guess (being a church-going Christian) I would probably have to say the first Christmas. It looks quiet and warm and happy. It would be cool to witness that particular turning point in history that has touched so many lives.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

The last book I read (every day in May)

This year, our gallery has chosen some pieces of literary fiction and paired them with local artists who are asked to produce an installation in 'the vault'* to match the themes of the book or play.

They then choose a panel to read and review the themes of the written piece, lead by the artist themselves. The panel explores their ideas in front of a greater audience of local book-enthusiasts who munch delectable savouries and sip wine before joining the discussion themselves.

I have really enjoyed the bookclub nights the gallery has put on and, after a wine or two, have even joined in with the discussion that follows. I was very surprised when the gallery asked me to sit on the latest panel to discuss the novel A long, long way by Sebastian Barry.

It wasn't the sort of book I usually read. I do love a book that incorporates a bit of history and I am a fan of books that explore the evolution of spirit. This book was exceptionally dark and violent in places and I was tempted many times to just skip to the ending. For the record, I stuck it out!

It follows the journey of one Willie Dunne, a young Irish lad who finds himself in the thick of war. Gentle scenes of a father tenderly holding young Willie are in stark contrast to the hellish scenes of Flander's Fields that unfold as the book progresses. Graphic depictions of fear and agony are followed by poetic language describing the beautiful countryside.

It then follows poor Willie on his furlough home to a country that is in the grip of its own kind of battle - that between the royalists and nationalists. Poor Willie struggles to make sense of the casualties of war and to make up 'his own mind' about where his place really is.

Barry (who is a highly regarded poet in his native Ireland) inclusion of poetry was to me quite jarring. Many times I was tempted to re-read a passage and explore the poetry of the lines only to feel defeated by the underlying violence of the text.

Although it is emotionally the hardest book I have ever read, I am glad to have read it. I think the story, which is really a tale of heartbreak, endurance and the indefatigability** of the human spirit will stay with me for a long time.

I was aiming for a light-hearted romp after this one (I have a Lauren Child YA fiction on my bedside) but I think I'll be reading 'The Fault in our Stars' by John Green in readiness for the opening of the film.

* Our gallery started life as a bank.
** Yes, that is a real word! Ha!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Something I'll never blog about (every day in May)


My grief is personal.

It's not that I haven't wanted to express it in someway, it's just that I've chosen not to express it in writing.

My writing is for hope and achievement. Not for staying in the past and reliving the dark times.

I'm moving on.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Names (every day in May)

I chose my children's names carefully. Well.. I edited a shortlist from which my husband chose their names if we're being totally correct - but we did put a lot of thought into said shortlists! We made sure the meanings held great value to us.

Mr Z's name means 'defender of mankind'. We wanted him to be strong and to care for others.

Miss Piggy's means 'Christmas child'. When we arrived to be induced, the hospital was adorned with decorations and she left covered in glitter. Plus... she was kind of  ... a 'gift'.

Small Boy was named for someone who encouraged others to love justice, live with kindness and live humbly. We thought that sounded like the sort of person we would be proud to call our son.

So... you'd think I'd actually use these beautiful and carefully chosen names. Evidently not.

They have loads of nicknames, my offspring. Piglet, Miss Piggy and Piggle - all newborns are like squealing little pigs with their soft pink noses snuffling about.

The big one, the pink one and the small one - from when we used to talk in code (such codes have long been abandoned since the big one and the pink one learned to spell).

But most often I refer to them as Piglet (the kindest of the animals in the Hundred Acre Wood), Noodle (I think that one evolved from 'nudist' when she was going through that stage that all two year olds go through), and Boozy (he used to wobble like a little drunk man before he found his balance, poor darlin).

They don't seem to mind.


I might add, my relatives rarely ever call me by name. My grandparents call me petal or flower or blossom, my mum 'Milly' (for Milly Molly Mandy), my sister 'Neen' or 'Neenee' (hence my blog address), my brother has called me all manner of weird names (including 'Hemp' when I was first going through my earth-loving environmental stage) and my hubby has a pet name for me that I later found out is a Sri Lankan name for the boogey man. I've forgiven him!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A journey (every day in May)

When I was eight months pregnant we took a trip. It was a sort of last hurrah as a family of four. We booked a cheapie Tiger flight at five to midnight, drove the long hours to the city and hopped on a plane.

We enjoyed the sights that Melbourne had to offer by day and retired to cosy family homes by night (have I mentioned before how convenient it is to have relatives in interesting places?) I remember getting stuck in a turnstile at a tram stop at the Docklands. I remember huffing and puffing up the stairs at Fed square. I remember old ladies smiling sweetly at my enormous bump, then looking at my other two grubby toddlers and giving me looks that expressed condolences.

We ate, we drank, we were merry. Well, we did all those things before 7pm bedtime but we still had some fun. Looking back, I may have been a stickler for that 7pm bedtime because I was the tiredest... did I mention I was EIGHT months pregnant? Or that 'little' number three was 9 pound 3 and I am not quite 5'2"?!

On our way home, we hung around the airport and I decided to do some waddling rather than sitting (those of you who've birthed a giant baby know what I mean).

It was then I saw a beautiful sight - one that will stay with me forever*. A greying man in maybe his fifties, holding the hand of his son. His son was jumping up and down with sheer excitement. I could overhear some of their conversation and it was clear that they were queuing for hot chocolate with marshmallows. The older man looked into his son's face, smiling with the enthusiasm and joy reflected back at him. The boy was polite, and just so grateful to be out with his Dad doing something so grown up. And with PLANES nearby, no less.

But... this was no ordinary sight. The son was not a child. He was maybe twenty years old. He had Downs Syndrome. I looked at the father and I looked down at my own four year old son. One day my son would grow to resist holding my hand. One day my son would buy his own hot drink without a thought. One day my son would be bored waiting in an airport full of planes. But not that man's son. That man would get to enjoy the purity of childhood for as long as they were both able to stand side-by-side.

What a beautiful thought - having a child that needed you indefinitely. Being someone's 'Mummy' or 'Daddy' forever.

I'm not in any way trying to diminish the hardships that come with having a child with a disability. I know that life is harder for some than others depending on the needs of their child and of the resources at hand, but I just looked at that grey-haired man and KNEW he felt blessed by what some might see as a burden.

I feel I was meant to see that little vignette at the airport. God was preparing me for a world of patience and trust and love for the unique little person I was about to meet.

My own little number three. He has taken his time growing up. When I realised that something was different about him, I found it hard to put my finger on what it was. So did everyone else around me. As a baby, he was so happy, so sunny, so calm, so quiet - he barely even cried.

This is the Small Boy at around 3 hours old. He just lay there looking at
me while I lay looking back at him. It was such a lovely experience

He is so funny and determined. He is such a blessing to our family. It took time and patience and determination to trust my mothers' instinct and to keep pushing until we worked out exactly what it was that was wrong. I have been so lucky to have been able to access the help he needs to propel him on his way.

These days, he stands out less. The other kids at kindy complain, "He won't talk to us," but little by little he is reaching out and trying to fit in with them. When at a distance, you look at him as part of a group, he no longer stands out.

He's growing up! He's finding his way! His test results have moved from 'profound' communication disorder to 'moderate' and every day he unlocks new words and ideas. It's all just a grand, happy adventure to my gorgeous Small Boy.

He has taught me patience and faith in a way that nobody else could have. I've found it easier to count my blessings and forgive my own short-comings as the mother of this perfectly beautiful little boy.

Because he IS perfect. In spite of his dodgy ears (which are now repaired) and the crazy little wild thing he became while we were working him out, he is just amazing and gorgeous and beautiful. And I wouldn't trade any of it. In fact I relish the fact that I get to stretch out these toddler years a little further than most.

Here he is at 14 months. We were just starting to investigate his issues - not
responding to his name, poor gross motor etc.

And while I really believe that in ten years, he'll be as able as my other kids, I'll be OK if he needs me just that little bit more than Mr Z or Miss Piggy.

It's been a journey of growth for me. I hope it's been a journey of growth for him, too. That his struggles will make him a patient man who takes challenges in his stride. Who embraces unique people and situations with warmth and kindness.


* Incidentally, the last time I'd seen a breath taking sight was ten years previous in Brisvegas, in front of City Hall. There was clearly some sort of ball about to start. In the square were people in their finest, standing in small groups but not a word was spoken. All you could hear was the flapping of hands as people signed to one another. I desperately wanted to take out my camera and record this amazing scene but instead I chose to just take it in. One night in Brisbane out of maybe two for the year. But I was there THAT night. Things ALWAYS happen for a reason.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Three people walk into a bar (every day in May)

Three people walk into a pub...

A tween waiting for her dad. People play darts or scoff hot chips beside the open fire. She's heading to the game-table to play space invaders with her sister. Her dad has given the sisters each 20 cents to keep them busy while he finishes his beer.

A teen. She's here every Thursday... and Friday... and sometimes Saturday. She drinks dollar drinks - fire engines. Sickly-sweet, red syrup with a shot of vodka. She's wearing textured, home made clothes*. She's laughing with her friends and trying to look sophisticated. She falls over... a lot!

A mother. She's so excited to be out of the house for the first time in ages, she can't stop giggling. She's carefully chosen her best handbag, best jeans, best heels (nothing too high so she doesn't fall over). Her boobs feel like they're going to burst because she's left her baby at home.

They're all me! Or, at least, who I used to be.

Nowadays, I head into the pub with my entourage. It's all about the best games room and the best place for chips. We go on a Monday when it's two-for-one or a Wednesday when kids eat for free.

* Jo... you'll remember grass dress, violet crumble wrap, dog-skirt! Guess what?! I still have them lurking in the cupboard. They were great luck! As you'll remember, dog-skirt snagged me the perfect man ;)

Monday, May 19, 2014

My favourite restaurant meal (every day in May)

A few months ago, J and I decided to dine at the fanciest place in town. It is a rare occurrence for us to dine out, without children... and together so we were in our finest and were quite excited about the prospect of eating somewhere that didn't serve nuggets. 

Because it is posh, we'd had to book the week before to make sure we got a booking and we were feeling a bit like the cool kids in town. 

But for those of you reading in more civilised parts of the world, just realise that while it *is* the fanciest place in town, we do live in regional Queensland so our ideas of fanciness may be a little skewed. 

The table was on the main street, it wobbled and a lone tealight candle stood in as the only decoration on the tiny square surface. We had a great view of the hoons passing by on their usual Saturday night exploits. But like I said, no nuggets - so pretty much as fancy as you get in the country. 

The food was amazing. I had something called "Duck, two ways", sounds regional-posh, doesn't it?! It had layers of fancy salad, mash, duck and was topped with crunchy sweet-potato strips. Delicious. 

It was also so large I couldn't possibly eat all of it (but I gave it my best effort). 

It probably rates as my favourite meal simply because it was J and I. Just us. It was locally grown food (important to me) and our babies were warm and safe nearby and waiting for us to come home and kiss them good night. Not bored, fighting, crying, needing help with their knife and fork. 

It was relaxed. It was comfortable. No worries!

Us... on a trip to Brisvegas last year

Sunday, May 18, 2014

If I could give $1million to charity (every day in May)

I like to give to charity, but when I do I need to know my money is going somewhere it will be well used. I usually give to smaller organisations where I actually know people who are involved in the work.

The next charity I donate to will be COAT (Chinese Orphans Assistance Team) and in particular their 'Eagle's Wings' project.

Their 'Eaglets' are Chinese children who have been abandoned for one reason or another. The team works to get them the medical assistance they need with the hope they can be adopted by mostly American families (unfortunately the adoption laws in Australia mean that they can't be brought here). The children who age-out of the adoption system continue to be cared for into their adult years.

I know a couple of people who fly out to visit the Eaglets to take resources from Australia, in-service the staff that are working at the homes and to complete small projects onsite (or to set up larger ones). These people spend their own money getting there and back so that all the donations can go toward supporting the orphans.

The donations are spent feeding, clothing and educating the orphans. It pays for their carers in their homes (creating employment for local people) and their medical needs. Donors can choose to donate to the organisation or to support a particular child. It is a reasonably small, but well-organised operation and I feel happy knowing that the donated dollars are really working to do GOOD.

They've been featured on a few television shows this year - Sunday Night, among others.

So... if I had a million dollars to donate, I would give it to them. They are forward thinking, compassionate people who are making a real difference to so many little lives. They are amazing.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

The worst smell... (Every day in May)

Well yesterday in my busy-ness, I hastily whipped up a blog post. The prompt was, "your favourite smell", but as my day had been crazy, I could not get to a place of calm and peace to figure out what that was.

I could have written about frangipanis after summer rain, the sea breeze that hits you the second you emerge from your car on a trip to the coast, or that hint of smoke on the breeze that heralds the beginning of short Winter days. 

But no, I chose to write about the relief that occurs when you finally find that rotten prawn that's been driving you to insanity for days. 

So... Now I have to find ANOTHER worst smell in the world. 

When I was at high school, I was somebody's best friend. I didn't deserve to be. We sat next to each other at computer club and one break a week I would force myself up the stairs to the corner beside the uniform shop just to chat with her. K was her name and we'd been classmates since year 5. 

K was slow moving and not very smart. Kids used to avoid her because she had a smell about her. 

In my adult life, I've come to realise that smell is stale smoke, mixed with days of not washing, and probably malnutrition. The smell of neglect.

Why do some people neglect their children? Fear, depression, despair? 

I grew up in a small country town, built around a meat works that closed when we were young. 

Some of the kids I grew up with had Vietnam Vets for fathers. Others had moved to town because it was cheap. Most of us grew up in ex-council homes along the same two, windy streets. 

Our mums worked while our dads hit the pub. God bless the Eastern European bottlo owner who would cash dodgy cheques til pay day. 

The only smell worse than the smell of Tuesday at the meatworks*?

The smell of despair when it closed.


*Tuesday was the day the pigs would arrive.

The best smell in the world is... (every day in May)

I'll tell you one I don't like - that mousey smell you have in the laundry, despite the fact anything edible is locked away safely in the fridge.

You start to point the finger, "Have you been tossing apple cores again? You know we'll get MICE!" "Have you been leaving the back door open again? It's getting colder and you know the MICE are looking for somewhere warm to hang out for the winter!"

You find no evidence of our little mousey friends and yet the mousey smell gets stronger and stronger.

Then your detective skills lead you to gingerly push your hand under the fridge....

EEEK! It's cold and squishy... it's a prawn! An old prawn that's rolled out of the fridge. "No cause for alarm, everyone! It's just a prawn!"


The joys of living in Queensland - where all smelly rubbish lives in the downstairs fridge til bin day!

Writing every day (albeit a little late today)

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Five foods for a year long diet (every day in May)

Today's prompt: You can only eat five foods for the duration of the year. Which five?

Easy - pasta, chocolate, cheese, grapes, chicken.

Is it sad that it's so easy? Can't live without the first three - comforting, energy rich food.

I like variety in fruit but if I have to pick one to eat every day, I think grapes is all that would cut it. Full of antioxidants (to combat the chocolate baddies).

I actually enjoy beef more than chicken... but if I have to eat cheese and pasta for dinner every day, chicken would be easier to cook!

Lets hope this hypothetical year is spent outdoors working off the calories and not trapped inside a building!!!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

My favourite photo (every day in May)

Even though I generally eschew sentiment as unnecessary sap, on the inside I'm a bit of a romantic.

Which is why my favourite photos are of my loves.

This one is the first time we were together as a whole family. I love the expressions on everyone's faces - Miss Piggy is full of suspicion, Mr Z is holding his mouth the way he does when he's concentrating on being very careful and J is just looking with love (how hot is he with that stubble?!). Despite being bruised and hopped up on hormones, it was one of the best moments of my life! Four years has flown by so fast. 

This photo was taken this weekend for Mothers Day. You are fortunate I turned it black and white as me first thing in the morning is not a pretty picture - all blotches and bad breath! Thanks J for shoving a camera in my face the moment I woke up!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

My relationship with my phone... (every day in May)

Seriously co-dependent.
This is not my phone, I have an iPhone5. Unfortunately I needed
to use it to take this photo, so this was the next most used
phone in the house ;)
It needs me - more and more as time goes on. It gets to 22% charge and I start to feel guilty that I didn't plug it in in the car on the way to work. Then it drops to 18% and chucks a hissy fit and ignores me for the remainder of the afternoon.

I bought a long cable for it so I can take it to bed with me. My husband complains that it's three in the bed. Then the dog leaps on the end and he whinges that he's slipped to third-best.

It decides what I watch on TV (catch up TV and the occasional AppleTV movie). I get mad when it refuses to let me watch Revenge or the indy flicks I like - stupid Apple licensing rules.

My Small Boy (who doesn't speak much English, although he's improving) can say, "Ph- own, Mum!" and brings it to me with a worried little expression, whenever he realises we've been apart for more than ten minutes.

Definitely an addiction.

But also a lifeline to friends and family, first aid manual, shopping list, alarm clock, digital camera, newspaper, personal assistant and mobile work station (and more) in one.

Now and again, I force myself to take a break (a tech-free day) but I know I couldn't really be without it. Sad.

Monday, May 12, 2014

The house is on fire... what do you grab? (every day in May)

Don't laugh, but I sleep with a fire extinguisher beside my bed and the kids have fire blankets under theirs.

When the kids have that yearly 'bring your fireplan to school', mine know ours off by heart.

I once saw a thin plume of smoke as I drove about town, as I got closer, it thickened. In the few minutes it took me to get there (three, tops), the house was a blazing, blackened mess. Thank goodness I could see the three occupants, seated in the gutter across the road, watching all their belongings go up in flames. The firies got there as soon as they could but by then it was all gone.

It shocked me. Actually, I think it scarred me. I've always been a bit neurotic about safety, but since then I've had the need to scatter fire extinguishers around the place.

I've thought a lot about getting everyone out alive. What I'd do if the stairs were ablaze. Where I'd run to call the fire brigade. How I'd bundle three kids and a dog downstairs. But I've honestly never thought about what else I'd save!!!
Totally recommend this website for building your own
fire escape plan - for school projects or for peace of mind, 
it's a great tool!

The prompt today is to list five things you'd grab on the way out, assuming everyone in your family is safe (I'm including the dog in the everyone because she is a person, after all).

I think everything at my place is replaceable, except my photos - so I guess I'd take my computer and the back up drive.

If there was any way I could take my mattress, I would do it - took me SOOO long to choose it, it is amazingly comfortable and I can't imagine life without it.

 I would save my Ellie's ashes from beside the front door, she was such a faithful friend to us all and would never have left the house without us.

I guess the last thing would maybe be my wedding album. Assuming I could find it in time! I really should get around to working out which ones I've already done and scan the rest of those suckers in!

So, in further proof I'm on the train to crazy, I'd take:
* a computer
* back up drive
* mattress
* dead dog ashes and
* an incomplete DIY project

Let's hope we never have a fire!

Am off to read everyone else's list on Clairey Hewitt's blog now :)

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The one skill I've always wished to have (every day in May)

I can hear my hubby sighing from here...

I'd like to learn to ... juggle. (I'll bet he's wishing it was, "tidy her side of the bed")

I don't know why I'd like to learn to juggle, it's just the first thing that popped into my head. I do love an unecessary skill - mostly because I can say to myself, "Well, I'll bet not many people can do that!"

Since I'm totally useless at throwing and catching, it's probably not going to happen... but a girl can dream, can't she?

Here's me with my 'Ukuladeez'. Sometimes the best thing about learning 
something new is the people you get to spend time with, learning it. 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

The story of my first car... (every day in May)

In high school, I drove 'Big Red', an aging magenta Falcon. It was the family car, but as I'd loaned my Dad the money to fix it so often, he promised it was my car too.

Driving Big Red was a learning experience, to say the least. It was petrol and LPG. LPG was at that point under 30c/L which meant that unlike my friends, I didn't really have to worry too much about the fuel bill. I mean, petrol was something horrific like 77c/L back then!!!

I also didn't have to worry about reversing. Big Red didn't do reverse... unless you had your right leg dangling from the driver's side, Flintstone style, or you had a friend to push.

Big Red also didn't have a door handle on the driver's side. Every time I got into the passenger side to slide over the seat to the driver's side, I felt like I was being watched - and that every person watching thought I was stealing the car.

I remember the day that door handle fell off. I'd dropped my Mum at her ultra-early morning bakery job and was making the long drive home to our house (25 min) to get an hour of shut-eye before I drove back for my own corner-store job. I needed some gas, so I was stopped at the service station with a hideous black and fluoro hoodie on over my jammies (it was Winter and the nineties). I was safety conscious and all the doors were locked except the driver's door. After paying, I went to get back into the car and to my surprise, the handle just came off in my hand. How embarrassing - here I was, on the main street in my jammies, with the world just starting to wake up. Any minute someone would pull up behind me and I'd have to explain my ridiculous situation!

Lucky a nice, hairy man on a bike had seen the whole thing and knew a way to break into the passenger side! He did it with such speed and ease, I hoped that he noticed how crappy the car was on the inside! I sent him message via ESP, "This is not the car you are looking for, nothing here to see".

My mum junked poor Big Red some time while I was away at uni.

The first car I actually bought was a Honda Civic. I remember going to the bank to extract all my savings with J (my now husband). I was surprised at how small a bundle of notes making $1000 really looked. I considered asking for it all in tens!

We looked around some car yards, with him offering to loan me some money once we saw what was on offer. He had a compact little car and had never had to drive a 'bomb'. I, of course, was too proud. I told him, "I'll know it when I see it."

I'd already picked a name - Cecilia. Like the Paul Simon song. Of course, after Big Red, I totally expected any car I'd be driving to be, "breaking my heart... shaking my confidence daily". But when I saw the tiny white car parked in the corner with just the right price tag ($999, of course), I knew this was a great car and there was no way I could give it that name.

So Geraldine (Geri - like the Spice Girl) came into my possession. While Big Red had been an auto, Geri, being a '74 model, quite obviously was not. I had an SA licence (which didn't stipulate manual/auto) and I'd only really driven auto since my three driving school lessons several years earlier. Uh oh. And did I mention that we were buying this car to take home to our very own garage in the house we'd just moved into... FOUR HOURS AWAY?

Let's just say, I learned to drive 'four on the floor' by the time we'd hit the eighth or ninth set of lights and I've never been so happy that the Bruce Highway is reasonably straight and long!!! J drove ahead the whole way and I just focused on his tail lights and alternated between prayer and swear words the whole way home.

This was after my brother had added a few nice touches
like fuzzy dice and car seat covers. Must be naughties 
because my hair isn't permed! 

Geri lived in our garage for several years. I often drove around town looking for missing hubcaps (poor J's attempt to pimp it out), occasionally for missing parts of my muffler and exhaust. She had a screwdriver to hold up a window after the winding mechanism broke.

She often squeezed six passengers inside if I drove friends home after a shift at the nightclub where I worked. Thank goodness her windows fogged quickly, I never got pulled over for an over-filled car like some of my friends! She was used to ferry passengers from the reception after our wedding.

When it rained, she surprised me with crops of mushrooms growing out of the ancient carpet in the boot. When I saw those mushrooms waving, I would slam the boot so fast!!! 

My baby brother drove her for a few years after that, and then just as she was about to hit vintage status, we realised we could not keep her going any longer. My brother and I cried when we took her to the wreckers. They gave us a hundred bucks, mostly because I think they felt a bit sorry for us, all red eyed and heartbroken. I still have the Honda and Civic badges, they used to be stuck to the top of my monitors until I got a touch screen.

No other car has held quite the same attachment for me. She was the very start of my new, grown up life. She gave me my independence and I loved her!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Of all the ice-cream in the world, the best flavour is... (every day in May)


It's creamy, it's smooth, it's international (Madagascan, French etc etc), you can use it in smoothies, on rich chocolate deserts and it has NO LUMPS (yes, I'm one of those)... What's not to like?!

Mmmm... ice-cream.

When my 'big two' were still littles. How lucky we are
to have relatives in Europe! This is us, lapping up the Spring sunshine 
(and some gelati) in Venice. 

Last week I totally surprised my husband (and myself, truth be told). We took the kids to Coldrock as a special treat and instead of my usual vanilla, I got PINK bubblegum icecream with nerds mixed in. I think he wondered if I'd had a head injury or been abducted by aliens... He watched me carefully to make sure I ate it lumps and all. I did, and it wasn't half as challenging as I thought!

And that, my friends, is what I call personal progress!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

I am inspired by... (every day in May)

Lots of things make me feel energised and inspired.

Reading a first novel - you just know the excitement that came along with the first glimpse of this published tome. Someone has spent their life dreaming of the very item you have in your hands. They've spent sleepless nights wondering if they can, in fact, finish it. They've pushed themselves to the limit and made it out the other side. I admire them! What courage and commitment!

A cool Winter breeze with the whiff of an open fire. I don't know why - maybe because it takes me back to childhood? The world feels different on evenings like these if you close your eyes and breathe real slow. Or maybe that's just me!
This is the view from Caerphilly Castle (I think!). I went with my children and my grandparents in 2008

Watching someone hold a newborn. Their newborn. Knowing the fear and love all wrapped up in a tiny bundle. Someone making promises to themselves and their precious cargo. Promises and new beginnings always get me.

People watching. Sometimes I like to be that sad loser sitting by herself, watching the world go by. Wondering what all those people are thinking, feeling. Where they're going. Who they are. I get very imaginative when left to my own devices to just sit and observe (when I can force myself away from my phone, that is).

A true story. Especially of the rags to riches or endurance variety. I marvel at the strength people have.

My kids make me feel inspired. All the questions they ask that I find hard to answer. It makes me realise more about my own character than theirs. I make those little silent vows to do better, to explain more often.

Like when Miss Piggy told me zombies are real.

"No, they aren't. They're make believe"

"Yes, mum - they are! I saw them right here in Auntie B's newspaper. Zombies take over shopping centre"

"Darling - those are teenagers doing something for youth week! It's all pretend! Look, I promise zombies aren't real!"

"Well, what's all that blood all over them?!"

Cue at length discussion and question time and more questions about props and special effects... and a missing bottle of tomato sauce a few days later!!! Clearly the girl is taking inspiration from... me?!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

I once had a mentor who... (every day in May)
Someone asked me once how I managed to get so far with my education, how I managed to juggle  so many things going on along the way. Really I think they were asking me was, "Just what sort of crazy are you?"*.

It's in the people who walked ahead in my journey, shining the light so I could see where I was going. My teachers.

I had my robes sent up so I could graduate in our
home town. My J took this photo, it was the day
we announced our engagement. 

I learned that a lady can have grace and style even with a greying bun from Mrs H my French teacher. She always wore beautiful clothes and stockings on her tall, willowy frame. She was obviously very intelligent, well-travelled and while very strict she had kind eyes. Even though it was clear she didn't spend any time pampering herself in the hair and makeup department, she always looked a picture of class. Of course, living in a small country town, I also caught the odd glimpse of her in her downtime - in gardening clothes or in civvies with her son. But she turned on that air of grace and style for us rowdy teenagers every single day without fail.

My caregroup (homeroom) teacher was Miss B. She was the opposite of Mrs H. Always beautifully coiffed, but more compact. She was someone even those of us who were vertically challenged could talk with, eye to eye. Even though (at that stage) she had no children of her own, she was so very motherly. Even though she was often surrounded by lunatics and bad tempers, she was always so sweet, always listening with a gentle smile. Her words of encouragement went a really long way.

And while there were many other teachers who left an indelible mark on my life and character, my third greatest influence was my mentor teacher as a prac student - J. She looked more like a mad scientist than teacher. She had paint on her clothes and told stories of capturing lost chicken in her backyard. She taught me to help others to see the world. To open the pages of history books to fun and excitement. She showed me that on the inside, all small humans really want to do is learn.

I often think of these gorgeous ladies as I put on my teaching 'costume' - dresses, sensible shoes and stockings and head out to my day job. I think of them as I thank small people for their generous gift of a weed or a rock. I try to channel their patience as I hear my exuberant students tell me their stories or ask for my help. I try to remember that teachers can inspire and guide in more than just the three Rs.

I want to be, for someone else, who they were to me.


** I completely self-supported myself through two degrees between the ages of 17 and 21. There was a bit of a crazy overlap where I did two years simultaneously!!! Ugh. Eight subjects and work. I shudder at the thought. It's all just a blur of books and loans and bars and tips and broken down cars and customer service roles in supermarkets. 

Why?! Well, I'm a bit hyperactive, I dream big and figure I'll work out the fine details along the way (the kids have almost broken me of that one)... and basically I needed the money. I knew I couldn't survive on two minute noodles and paying the minimum on my credit card every month forever. 

It was a risk. I took it. I didn't fail due to sheer luck and determination and some lovely people who cheered me from the sidelines. I honestly think I owe it to my teachers, armed with their 'Girls Can Do Anything' stickers who made me believe it was all very possible. And because I believed I was going to make it, of course I did

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